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November 23, 2014

Recess Destinations for a Curious Congress

It’s that time again! Time for the countdown to recess — ahem, district work period — when members of Congress carefully take the pulse of their constituencies at reasonable and polite town halls, and the invisible hand of the democratic process works its magic.

It’s also a time for raising boatloads of cash if one happens to be running for re-election, touching base with key players in the political process and educating oneself about the issues of the day.

As part of its public service mission, HOH is suggesting some dream destinations for curious members of Congress, places right here in the good old US of A that can provide public servants with a firsthand look at the issues of the day they’ll encounter on Capitol Hill as elected representatives of the people.

Detroit

The Motor City’s recent bankruptcy filing brings into sharp focus a host of issues: urban decay, the degree to which cities can deliver on long-ago promises as demographics change, local control, federal aid for states and municipalities. Once the city that powered America, Detroit now faces the indignity of seeing professional auctioneers check out the paintings in the Detroit Institute of Art. Before throwing down positions, perhaps members of Congress could see firsthand the complex things are.

Nogales, Ariz.

Immigration policy, thanks to the recent Senate debate and Rep. Steve King’s comments about a 1-to-100 ratio of valedictorians to cantaloupe-calved drug mules in the undocumented population, is hot right now. What better way to see what’s going on than to actually visit a bona fide border town? Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, are actually divided down International Street, and they offer a more nuanced example of the issues around immigration that one might not find by watching FX’s “The Bridge.”

New York City

The sad truth about modern campaigns is that most members of Congress never really have to fight and claw their way to victory in a wide-open race with twists and turns. Lucky for them, they can visit the Big Apple and see a real political gladiator fest in the mayoral race, starring one of their most distinguished alumni, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., aka Carlos Danger, the serial sexter. New York hasn’t seen a mayoral Democratic primary like this one since 1977, when then-Rep. Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, Mayor Abe Beam and then-Rep. Bella Abzug duked it out amid the Summer of Sam.

Fort Hood, Texas

How about a journey to the center of the Lone Star State and one of the largest military bases in the world, with more than 50,000 personnel, to see how the sequester is playing out? Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Joint Chiefs of Staff can traipse up to Capitol Hill to discuss how the sequester is affecting readiness and morale, but how about asking some of the rank and file, as well as their families?

San Diego

Instead of attending some dry HR seminar about sexual harassment, why not head to America’s Finest City, which is a true case study in personnel management, thanks to its hands-on mayor, ex-Rep. Bob Filner.

It’s a big country, Congress! Get out and see it.

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